Ultra Newcomers - Redding and Fagan - Prevail at USA 50K Trail Championships
By Bob Cooper, Running USA wire

SAUSALITO, Calif. - (August 24, 2002) - After 26 miles of running, three men were still right together, just as they were for most of the race. It would have been a thrilling marathon finish on Saturday, but it wasn't a standard, 26.2-mile marathon. The race was the Golden Gate Headlands/USA 50K Trail Championships, a 31.1-mile ultramarathon, so they still had five miles to go.

Jeremy Redding, 30, of Stanley, Idaho, took off at that point and opened a small gap on the narrow, fog-shrouded trails of Marin County, Calif. He held on to win in a course-record 3:50:46, ahead of former trail companions Dave Mackey, 32, (3:53:43) of Boulder, Colo., and rookie ultramarathoner Bryan Dayton, 29, (3:59:52) of Asheville, N.C. Claiming the women's title was local favorite Mary Fagan of Mill Valley, Calif., in 4:30:59.

"I was looking back a lot to see what kind of lead I had," Redding said after finishing at Rodeo Beach, a few miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. "It wasn't easy to tell because of the fog."

Mackey drew within sight of Redding on the final, dramatic climb on a trail overlooking the Pacific surf, but couldn't catch up. It probably didn't help that he took a wrong turn and hit his head on a tree limb early in the race, although he refused to use those mishaps as an excuse. "I wouldn't have caught him anyway," he shrugged.

It was only the second ultramarathon for Redding, who finished second in March behind Carl Andersen at another 50K race in northern California. (Coincidentally, it was Andersen's course record that Redding beat here, by nine minutes.)

"I've never even run a marathon," he noted, although he confessed to notching some quick track times when he competed for Idaho State University. The salmon hatchery worker gets by on 60 weekly miles of running, a paltry figure by ultramarathon standards, although it's all at elevations of 6,500 to 9,000 feet.

Fagan, 26, ran uncontested for the last 26 miles to win in 4:30:59. Placing well back in second and third, respectively, were Kristin Moehl (4:44:33), a 24-year-old outdoor products company employee from Seattle, and Luanne Park (4:59:37), a 42-year-old art teacher from Redding, Calif., who has finished 50 ultramarathons.

"My hamstrings are a little tight, but everything else is fine," said Fagan, a local high school biology teacher. "It really helped to run sections of the course all summer, because I only live a few miles away, and to have my running club teammates cheering for me on the trail."

Fagan explained that Marin County's famous trails are the reason she and her twin sister, also a marathoner, moved there from Connecticut three years ago.

"We'd seen pictures of these trails and decided that's where we want to live," she said. She has now run four ultramarathons since her first one last summer, including three wins.

The race was held in thick, swirling fog in temperatures that never topped 60 degrees. It is run up and down the Coast Range ridges that connect Rodeo, Tennessee Valley, Muir and Stinson Beaches on the western slope of Mt. Tamalpais. Challenging the 217 runners were seven major climbs that each rise at least 1,000 vertical feet, along with stairs, stretches of beach sand and even a ladder climb-all on fire roads and trails patrolled by deer, coyotes, bobcats and cougars.

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